Monday, January 07, 2008

Please use back door

I added pit bulls to my list of occupational hazards today, as if the possibility of random shootings, gang violence, or being kidnapped by crackheads weren't entertaining enough.


(Please note that I write this not for your sympathy, but so that my coworker Deb from my old cozy unit will stop insisting that my promotion to this field position is some kind of *racket* as she likes to call it.)

I still have all of my limbs, but barely. A sign on the front of the house directed me to the back door where I found, a little too late and a little too close for comfort, a friendly (not!) brindle pit bull. With a very strong-looking neck and a tie out which was considerably weaker-looking than anything I would think to use with my Lab puppy. And about a foot of space between the end of that lead and my pathway to the back door. Ahem.

For the life of me, I can't understand why my client who has a beautiful house and who is a truly nice person, would have a pit tied out in her yard. Other than, maybe, to protect herself and her home from the neighbors.

At any rate, I'm a dog lover and reserve most of my fear for little yappy dogs or the occasional golden retriever. Illogical, I know, but a golden snapped at me once and now I'm afraid of most of them. My sister-in-law rescued an abused pit in a cruelty case from a neighborhood such as the one I visited today. Sweet dog and good-natured as pits go, but I don't trust it. Once it had me afraid to move when it cornered me alone in my SIL's living room and wouldn't give way for me to walk past him. Silly, really, because I know the dog to be sweet, but always there's that reputation to contend with.

Oftentimes, I guess the reputation is warranted, but I wonder if others have had a positive experience with pits or other *dangerous* dog breeds. I know lots of lovable Rotties and German Shepherds and wouldn't think of fearing them as a breed the way I might pit bulls (or golden retrievers!)

Image from the HSUS.


KGMom said...

This is a tough subject--because I do believe there are no bad breeds, just owners who teach dogs to be "bad."
BUT--there are some dogs that have jaws that could crunch--oh, say an arm or a leg--human, that is.
And those are the ones I watch.
I do try to act like I am the lead dog, appealing to or playing to dogs' natural pack instinct to be subservient to the pack leader.
However, some dogs might think they are the alpha dog, and I am not.
So I try to be respectful, and careful.

Dave said...

I kept dobbies for years (or should I say they kept me). They are as mean as you make them. Mine we real lovers but were protective of the kids.

z-silverlight said...

Oh, yeah. I had a close call. Anyone who says pitts are puppies, have never been attacked.
Never ever trust them. But, at the same time, hide your fear.

Mary said...

I'm with you, Laura. I did a post entitled "Dog Breeds: Trust your Instincts" on the very same subject. Boy, did I take a whipping in the comments section from Pit breeders and supporters!

I fear ANY dog without an owner nearby, particularly Pit Bulls.

Jayne said...

I've never understood why ANYONE keeps ANY dog chained in the back yard. If I were that dog, I'd be pissed off too and liable to take it out on anyone coming by. Pit bulls are just scary to me period.

Ruth said...

Our region has now banned Pit Bulls. Before they did, I visited a home that had one. Home Care had provided a rental aluminum cane for the client and when I went to pick it up, it was very dented and bent because the dog had "played" with it. It was not a nice, clean home in a good area, and I didn't do any more visits than I had to.

dguzman said...

Oh Laura--definitely trust your instincts, but try to hide your fear! I'm glad you're okay.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

I am an animal lover. I agree with kgmom. I don't think there are bad breeds, just bad owners. I have encounter several pits in my life and they were as friendly and gentle as puppies. I had a black lab and she was the best dog I ever had. Now my friend has a black lab and she is the meanest black lab I have ever met. They say that one should never look an animal in the eye during a first encounter, but I disagree. I feel, like people, you can tell a lot about them by looking them in the eye. I also agree with everyone else. Always trust your instincts. Glad your okay.

ncmountainwoman said...

As a home health nurse for many years, I had a healthy respect (fear) for the pit bulls in the inner city. However, my only encounter came from a Chihuahua. I was drawing blood from an elderly lady and had no idea the dog was in bed with her. The woman grimaced at the needle stick and out from under the covers came the doggie who bit my hand and drew more blood from me than I was drawing from the patient.

Unpredictable dogs of any breed are a real hazard to all who make visits to homes.

Anonymous said...

I agree with KGMom. I would honestly recommend watching a few episodes of "The Dog Whisperer" on National Geographic channel. The man is magical with dogs of all types -- particularly with Pits. He will show you how to control your body language and energy to be more successful with any type of dog.

I think it should be "must see tv" for anyone who may inadvertently walk into a bad situation with an untrustworthy dog.

LauraHinNJ said...

KGMom: I agree, I think. Except that so many breeds are so poorly bred that I think there must be a propensity for 'antisocial' behavior that's hard to counter, no matter the amount of kindness and love.

Dave: Right! I didn't even think of dobermans for some reason; maybe because I've never really known any.

The rabbit rescue I work with also rescues and rehomes dobermans primarily.

Z: Right. You should have seen me offering imaginary cookies to this one!

Mary: That's a good point. My Buddy was not good with strangers, regardless of anything I did (he was part Chow) and I see such a big difference in Luka's personality - can't imagine him not liking anyone.

Jayne: Considering the neighborhood, I think this dog might have been for appearances sake, mostly. He looked well cared for and had a nice house and shade and food and water. But most pits in poor neighborhoods are a status symbol almost, you know? Why people who can barely afford to feed themselves insist on taking on an animal is beyond me anyway.

Ruth: Yeah - there's similar ideas in the works here - and the SPCA won't take them without a hefty donation.

Delia: Right. I wasn't scared.


Villas Girl: Good point, I guess, though I wasn't much interested in a staring match! I'd bet he would've been fine in another circumstance.

NCMountainWoman: Hi. Thanks for your comment!

What a story - and it validates my fear of little dogs!

Susan Gets Native said...

We had a Sheltie (all of 15 pounds) that we had to put down because of behavior trouble. He bit Isabelle (she was 2 years old then) all after pills, training, etc.
My cousin has two pit/whatever mixes, and I would trust my girls with them any day. It's NOT the breed. It's the training (or lack of training, in a lot of cases).
Keeping your wits about you should keep you safe.

bobbie said...

I'm definitely a dog lover, and I do agree with Villas Girl that the fault is almost always with the owner, not the pet. And yet, like you, there is always that little suspicion of the breed. It's too bad that our prejudices show themselves like that.
Thanks for your comment to my blog. It's good to know there are friends out there. Yours is one of the first I read each morning.

Larry said...

I was bitten by a Dalmation once-I found out that he also bit a mailman on the nose.-My sister's boyfriend had a Rottweiler that was trained to attack-only it ended up biting him in the chest and giving him 46 stitches.Certain breeds are more prone to attack than others.-I've heard arguments that it's the owners etc.-that may be true but I've never been uncomfortable around a lab where as Pit Bulls and German Shepherds make me cross to the other side of the street if they're unleashed.